“A Wrinkle in Time” fumbles over important themes

Based on Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 science-fiction novel, Disney tried to bring the abstract ideas of tessering, or traveling with the mind, to other universes to life in “A Wrinkle in Time.” This story was a childhood favorite that is still near and dear for many adults today; however, director Ava DuVernay’s vision of the movie is much more pleasing to a younger audience with ridiculous space-fashion, over-the-top cheesy lines, and sugar-coated hot topics.

Released last Friday, the crowded theater was made up of more adults than children ready to see images from their wildest imaginations come to life. While most Disney movies are created for young children to enjoy, they also have elements in them that keep their older viewers engaged as well. With so many audience members being adults, this movie was sure to have those elements- but it simply did not.

The movie takes its audience on a journey with the outcasted protagonist Meg (Storm Reid), her brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) and her friend Calvin (Levi Miller) as she tries to find her missing father Dr. Alex Murray (Chris Pine) who was on the brink of discovering how to travel to other universes with his brain when he mysteriously disappeared. 

Meg, who is distrusting of people after losing her father and getting bullied at school, has to learn to accept the help from the quirky Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), the knowledgeable Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), and the wisdom-filled Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey). They help her learn to travel with her mind by wrinkling the dimensions around her and stepping into other universes to find her lost father.

There was plenty of opportunity to connect to all ages- the book inspired imagination of new planets and creatures while also playing with deeper topics such as alienation and longing. But when it came down to showing these ideas on the big screen, the scenes were dark and fast-passing and the disconnect and inner struggles Meg faces are covered up with corny, cringe-worthy lines that send a nice message to young viewers, but are unrealistic and unrelatable to older viewers.    

While there could have been huge breakthroughs with this movie, many of its highlights were underplayed. The plot for the movie and book was so admirable because it showed a young girl interested in and excelling in science. Brought to life, Disney portrayed a young girl of color following her parents into the science world. However, this is covered up with uncomfortably corny lines and lack of self confidence from Meg, not exactly painting a picture for little girls who also want to be scientists.

Furthermore, Meg’s role models who guide her along her journey are empowering women who are Indian-American, African-American, and caucasian. But again, this fact is covered up by dressing them in ridiculous space costumes with loud hairstyles and even louder makeup. They also offered lines that were delivered in a ditsy or over dramatic way, giving them less power.

“A Wrinkle in Time” also downplays its important themes. It offered a female hero going against a dark force that threatens the whole universe if it is not stopped. This quick spreading force was shown creeping into our universe and manifesting in the anger and jealousy in the people surrounding Meg. It is seen in Meg’s bullies and Calvin’s abusive father, as well as with Meg sometimes teetering between giving into the darkness herself and staying light. 

These themes have the potential to really capture an audience, but are delivered only briefly and sugar coated throughout. Even as Meg is battling the darkness to save her family and literally the rest of the world, the scene is so corny that it is hard to watch and more comical than climatic. 

As the movie came to an end and the lights came on, there was that one person who applauded which usually leads to everyone else clapping as well. However, nobody else joined in as they got up and threw away what was left of their stale popcorn.